Monday, November 13, 2006

Just Truckin' Along

Sorry about the delay in updating. I found out that the Chinese government has put a ban on blogspot, so for the past 2 weeks I have been unable to post anything and have tried to find a way around all the mess. Well, there is nothing blogspot can do about it and so I was left with 2 options. Set up a whole new blog, or email all my updates to my mother who can then post them. I really didn’t feel like setting up something new and then having to inform everyone at home about a new blog address. So my wonderful mom agreed to post updates for me every week!! She is so great!!
Ok, so over the past 2 weeks here are the new developments. I spoke with the woman from the orphanage and found out that I will be able to volunteer there on the weekends. I will be going with another group of university students, but I am not sure when I will begin. I must first meet with the head of the orphanage and am waiting to hear from her. I have found that sometimes things take a little longer to get accomplished here and I am learning to go with the flow and practice patience.
Speaking of going with the flow, we have had a change at the university, which will affect my teaching over the next few weeks. One of my group members had to return to Canada and now we are short one teacher. Until a replacement teacher can be found, myself and my other group members will have to pick up her students and possibly teach extra hours. It isn’t a huge deal because her students are learning the exact same material as mine, but it does require some flexibility on the parts of the teachers and administration. They are hoping to find someone within the next 2 weeks, but nothing is guaranteed. So for all of you out there who have ever wanted to teach abroad, now would be a great time to try it!!
Classes just get better and better every week and I love watching the progress my students have made so far. I am amazed at the dedication these students have and I am so proud of them.
I’ll leave you with a funny story. Last week I ran out of coffee beans (which is tragic for me) and had to find a place that sold them. I went to a little coffeehouse that is right off campus and decided it would be the perfect time to practice my Chinese. So I confidently went into the store and thought I knew I all the right words. Except when I got in there I realized I didn’t know the word for coffee beans, only the word for coffee. So I shaped my fingers like a small bean and then began making whirring coffee grinding noises. The sales woman got a real kick out of this and then I realized that there were coffee beans sitting on the counter behind her. So I began pointing to them and said, “Wo yao mai (insert pointing here).” Which means I want to buy ________. But the confusing thing about Chinese is that many words sound the same, you just change the tone and it changes the whole word. Well, buy and sell are the same word (mai) only you change the tone. I was using the wrong tone and kept confusing her, because instead of saying “I want to buy coffee beans.” I was saying, “I want to sell you coffee beans.” She was really kind and patient and after several minutes, she finally understood what I really wanted. Someone once said, “Making mistakes simply means you are learning faster.” If that is true, then I am a whiz at learning and should be fluent by the end of the year!

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